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Women can be empowered without reclaiming derogatory words

Staff October 26, 2012 Opinion No Comments

By Breanne Reilly
News Editor

When I first heard about the SlutWalk, the name took me aback.

Slut is a misogynistic term aimed at people, mostly women, who are considered to be “loose” or sexually promiscuous.
It is an insult.

And I do not believe that reclaiming a derogatory term, such as “slut,” makes it any less of an insult.

Arguably, embracing the word, “slut,” can give it a nearly harmless or positive connotation.

The often used phrase, “Hey, slut,” has made the word part of an ironic greeting. But, in my opinion, this casual use of the word is merely casual sexism.

In the case of SlutWalk, however, the word’s use has evolved into a sense of empowerment for women.

Sluts are now people who exercise their rights to their own bodies by embracing their sexuality and dressing however they want.

As part of the SlutWalk, participants have the option of dressing “slutty” or provocatively if they want to make a statement.

Last year, some students dressed in skirts, heels, bras and bathing suits.

Usually, I do not care what anyone wants to wear any night or day of the week. But I do have a problem with this part of the Walk.

If we encourage participants to dress “slutty,” aren’t we defining a certain type of style and certain parts of our own clothing in a negative way?

I understand this part of the Walk is meant to deliver the message that women should not be raped merely because they dress or act a certain way other people may deem unacceptable.

I understand we live in a society where blaming victims is common.

It seems when a woman is raped, her character is measured in relationship to her skirt length.
Her “slutty” attire is almost always used as an excuse for the attacker’s behavior.

But the truth is, women are raped regardless of what we wear, who we know or what we do.
Women are raped because rapists are foul.

There is no other reason.

In my mind, there exists no legitimate reason to blame a victim for rape and not the attacker.

And that, for me, is the point of the SlutWalk.

Although the word, “slut,” bothers me, SlutWalk is not just about the taking back the word.

And although I think the optional dress code is questionable, it also is not about what participants wear.

It is about the blame placed on the victim in a society that tells women “don’t get raped” when it should be preaching “don’t rape.”
I support this message, being a woman myself, and strongly believe we, as a society, should work to end this blame game.

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